Home Affairs shakes off new visas for South Africa

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The interior ministry says there is no update on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plan for digital nomad visas in South Africa – and that offering visas on arrival for tourists is out of the question.

In response to a parliamentary question and answer this week, Home Secretary Aaron Motsoaledi was asked whether the country would consider issuing visas on arrival for priority tourism markets as a way to boost tourism.

Motsoaledi said South Africa’s immigration laws do not provide for visas on arrival, so his department cannot issue them.

When asked about progress in developing ‘digital nomad’ visas to make it easier for foreign skills to settle and work in South Africa, the minister was equally hesitant in his answer, saying only that a report is being drawn up.

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“(The) President announced that he had appointed the former Director General of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Mavuso Msimanag, to review the visa regime. I therefore request that you await the results of the report,” he said.

Digital nomad visas are travel permits that legalize the status of traveling professionals. Like tourist visas, they are easy to obtain and do not require lengthy paperwork and an employment contract. However, they allow for a longer stay.

There are currently more than 130 countries that are visa-exempt in South Africa for travel and tourism purposes. However, these exemptions are for limited periods ranging between 30 and 120 days depending on the passport used to travel, and do not give permission to work in the country.

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In his February State of the Nation address, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government was looking to introduce remote “digital nomads” and start-up visas as part of an effort to attract more skilled workers.

He also said the country would introduce other visa reforms to make it easier for people to enter the country.

However, little has been done to implement these plans since the announcement.

The government has published a critical skills list — with the latest revision published in August — that expands the jobs and skills available to foreign workers to enter the country.

However, tampering with home affairs has made even this route a “nightmare” for businesses, as bureaucracy and bureaucracy have severely hampered the process of getting approvals.

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Other changes that are slowly taking effect include the expansion of the eVisa program, which was activated in March 2022 in 14 countries, including China, India, Kenya and Nigeria.

The e-Visa system allows tourists and visitors to South Africa to apply for their visa online. Applications are sent to a central arbitration center for approval, while applicants sit in the comfort of their homes. This will result in the issuance of virtual visas.

The department said in April it wanted to expand the eVisa program beyond the 14 countries already activated — but this too appears to have reached a roadblock as no additional countries have been added since.


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